Maidenii Vermouth is a collaboration between French wine maker Gilles Lapalus and Australian bartender Shaun Byrne. In the creation of Maidenii they have sourced leaves, flowers, fruits, herbs, seeds, spices and roots from the gardens of both the old world and the new. The vital components, wormwood and wine, are plucked fresh from the colony of Victoria.
Maidenii is a result of Shaun and Gilles’ abiding passions for pioneering in the field of alcohol production. Shaun has been tinkering behind the bar of Melbourne martini haven Gin Palace for over 5 years. This has helped him nurture his interest in capturing and enhancing natural flavours, arising in house-made concoctions and a sophisticated understanding of palates. Born of a French wine family, Gilles has wine flowing through his veins. After taking his craft around the world, in 2001 he took over the position of Winemaker at the dynamic Sutton Grange Winery. The two were bought together by their love of Vermouth; Gilles bringing with him the traditional alchemy of pastoral Europe to complement Shaun’s knowledge of the vibrant mixology culture of Australia’s young cities.
Vermouth is a combination of wine, wormwood and various botanicals, which through the ages has been used for reasons both medicinal and magical. A vital cocktail component as well as inherently drinkable on its own, Vermouth is an unchallenged staple. When Maidenii was conceived over a year ago, there was no Australian Vermouth on the market. Shaun and Gilles wanted to fill this niche to showcase Australia’s unique native botanicals. Their Vermouth uses fresh wine to make a vibrant product distinct from others. Patrons of Madame Brussels, Gin Palace, Collins Quarter and Bar Ampere have been treated with Maidenii’s first and second batches over the last year, and now Maidenii is ready to take its first steps into foreign terrain.
Maidenii is named for Joseph Maiden (1859-1925), a stalwart champion of the eucalypt & the acacia. This British colonist delved deeply and with joy into the often-neglected wealth of Australian botanical novelty, finding value and beauty where others saw none. Like Gilles and Shaun he was both of the old world and the new, bringing his traditional knowledge and training to bear in an unknown land of contrarieties. Unperturbed by those who dismissed the new colony as a land both hostile and barren, Maiden was a pioneer in cataloguing Australian botany and its many medical and gastronomical qualities. Many of these now contribute to the distinct tastes of Maidenii Vermouths.
Amongst the mix is locally sourced and hand picked wormwood, along with strawberry gum, river mint, sea parsley and wattleseed. In total Maidenii’s recipes harness 34 botanicals, 12 native to Australia. The wild diversity of the vast landscape that so scared the colonisers has been used to create Vermouth with a distinctly Australian flavour.